CAT Exam Pattern

Updated on
December 1, 2020

CAT 2020 Exam Pattern: Overall & Sectional Composition, Scoring pattern, Weightage, CAT Vs other exams  

CAT 2020 exam question paper had only 76 questions as against 100 last year. CAT Center at IIM Indore has overahuled complete CAT 2020 exam pattern as compared to last year CAT exam. The exam was scheduled in three slots of Morning, afternoon and evening on same day – Sunday, November 29, 2020. CAT 2020 exam duration was  reduced to 120 minutes from last year 180 minutes and sectional time limit was reduced to 40 minutes per section from last year 60 minutes. Read complete CAT 2020 Analysis slot wise

 

This year CAT exam had fewer number of questions - overall and sectionwise. CAT official Mock test which usually reveals the overall and sectional composition of CAT exam, did not reflect the change in total number of questions in CAT exam 2020. CAT 2020 exam convener had also informed MBAUniverse.com "CAT generally does not reveal the number or type of questions or the paper pattern. In fact, the CAT pattern is regularly changed so that the exam does not become predictable.”  

CAT 2020 Exam Pattern: Key Highlights

  • Total Duration: 120 Mins
  • Total Number of Questions: 76
  • Non MCQs: 22
  • Number of Question in Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC): 26 
  • Number of Question in Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR): 24
  • Number of Question in Quantitative Ability (QA): 26
  • Overall Difficulty Level: Difficulty in each slot went on rising from slot-1 to 3

CAT 2020: Major Changes in Exam Pattern  
CAT 2020 Centre has substantially changed the CAT 2020 exam pattern

  • CAT 2020 Exam had 76 Questions as against 100 questions earlier
  • CAT 2020 Exam duration was changed to 2 hours from earlier 3 hours
  • 40 Minutes were allotted to attempt each section instead of earlier 60 minutes
  • MCQs had 1/3 negative marking and Non-MCQs do not carry penalty of negative marking
  • 4 answer options for each MCQ type question
  • Answer had to be typed in the given space on computer screen for Non-MCQ.
  • Score awarded for each correct answer: + 3 marks
  • Negative marking (Applicable for wrong answers in MCQs): - 1 mark 

CAT 2020 pattern: Sectional composition
With the CAT 2020 question paper now available, the table below shares the CAT exam sectional order from Section-1 to Section-3, number and type of questions in each section, questions with and without negative marking and total maximum marks available for each section

Section as per CAT exam Pattern

Total questions

Total MCQs (With negative marking)

Total Non-MCQs (Without negative marking)

Highlights

Section-1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

26

18

8

4 RC Passages with 18 MCQs; VA 8 Non MCQs divided into Para jumbles, Para Summary, and Out of Context Sentences

Section-2: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

24

18

6

LR – 10 Ques

DI – 14 Ques

All in Sets of 6 & 4 Qs

Section-3: Quantitative Ability (QA)

26

18

8

High on Arithmetic. Other on Log, Geometry, Roots, Algebra

Total

 76

54 

22 

 

Source: MBAUniverse.com analysis

 

5 big changes announced in CAT 2020 by IIM Indore

 

1. CAT 2020 Exam in Three Sessions: CAT 2020 was conducted on November 29, 2020 (Sunday) in three sessions in Morning, Afternoon and Evening. Earlier there were two sessions announced. So, there was an extra session this year to accommodate social distancing norms. . 

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The key changes in CAT exam slots and slot timings are:

Particulars
CAT Exam 2020
CAT exam 2019
CAT exam date
November 29, 2020
November 24, 2019
Number of Sessions
3
2
Morning CAT Session Timing
8.30 AM to 10.30 AM
9 AM to 12 Noon
Afternoon CAT Session Time
12.30 PM to 2.30 PM
2.30 PM to 5.30 PM
Evening CAT session Time
4.30 PM to 6.30 PM
No third session

 

2. CAT 2020 Exam Duration Reduced to only 2 Hrs: The revised duration of CAT 2020 was of  120 minutes. Last year it was 180 minutes. This is a big change.

 

3. CAT 2020 continues to have Three Sections on- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension  (VARC);  Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability (QA)

 

4. Section wise time limit Reduced to 40 mins: Candidates were allotted only 40 minutes for answering questions in each section. They will not be allowed to switch from one section to another while answering questions in a section. Last year the time limit was 60 minutes for each section. This will change the way candidates prepare and take the exam.

 

5. Registration Deadline was Extended to Sep 23: Registration for CAT 2020 was extended till 5.00 pm on September 23, 2020 from earlier September 16. The CAT convenor urged test takers to register well in advance to allow themselves a hassle-free registration process and to avoid a last-minute rush.  . 

 

CAT exam pattern keeps on getting revamped at least to some extent after each CAT exam. IIM Indore which is conducting CAT 2020 exam has again changed the CAT exam pattern 2020 with reduced  number of questions and time duration.  

CAT 2020 Sectional composition & Scoring Pattern
Here, you will get complete details about the revised exam pattern of CAT 2020, its sectional composition, scoring pattern, past trends in CAT exam pattern and other key information. MBAUniverse.com has also provided past CAT papers and model papers as per exact CAT test paper to help you assess your preparation. You can attempt each of these papers free of cost.    

 

The table below shares the CAT exam sectional order from Section-1 to Section-3, number and type of questions in each section and maximum marks for each section.

  • Each Question is awarded +3 Marks for correct answer
  • Each MCQ carries -1 Negative Mark for wrong answer
  • No Negative marking for Non-MCQs
Section as per CAT exam Pattern
Total questions
MCQs
Non-MCQs
Maximum marks
Section-1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
26
18
8
78
Section-2: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
24
18
6
72
Section-3: Quantitative Ability (QA)
26
18
8
78
Total
76
54
22
228

Source: MBAUniverse.com analysis     

cat exam pattern

After the major transformation of going green in 2009, CAT exam structure and pattern has been revised number of times in terms of number of sections, number of questions, time duration, difficulty level, type of questions, scoring pattern and testing window.  Since 2015, CAT exam pattern has stabilized to a great extent. The exam is also now held in a single day as against in multiple days earlier.

 

Number of applicants for CAT exam has gone up to 2.44 lakhs in 2019 from 1.95 lakhs in 2013. Due to the fear of Covid-19, the registration number has dipped again to 2.28 lakhs in 2020.  

CAT 2020: Computer Based Exam But Not Online Test
Is the CAT online test? Responding to this query IIMs respond that CAT paper pattern is computer based but CAT is NOT online test. Regarding the exam pattern of CAT, IIMs clarify “CAT is not an online exam. It is a digital or Computer Based Test (CBT); not an Internet-Based Test (IBT); that is, a candidate will not take the exam on an internet site. Instead of reading the questions in a paper booklet and darkening the ovals on the answer-sheet, a candidate will read the questions on a computer terminal and choose an answer by clicking on the correct option.”   

 

So, the CAT exam pattern 2020, despite being a computer based exam, is not an online exam. Sharing the key difference and USPs of CAT exam pattern, IIMs further elaborate “In the computer-based format, the candidate reads a question on a computer terminal and clicks on the correct answer. Additionally, the timer on the computer screen tells you the remaining time to complete the current section.”  

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Section Wise Exam Pattern For CAT 2020: Sections, sub-sections, difficulty level
CAT 2020 exam is totally revamped by IIM Indore. The section wise key features of CAT 2020 sectional exam pattern are:

 

VARC: 1st section

  • Total questions: 26
  • LOD: Moderate to Very difficult
  • Section Highlights:
  • No Grammar or vocabulary based questions in CAT 2020
  • Verbal Ability questions confined to 3 topics – Jumbled paragraph; Para summary; picking the odd sentence out of the jumbled sentences

DILR: 2nd section

  • Total questions:24
  • LoD: Moderate to difficult
  • Section Highlights:
  • Questions appeared in set of 6 & 4
  • Time crunch is faced by test takers as questions are more time consuming

Quant: 3rd section

  • Total questions: 26
  • LoD: Moderate to difficult
  • Section Highlights:
  • More questions are on Arithmetic – Percentage, Profit & Loss, Time & speed, Work/days, Compound & Simple interest

Sub-Sections in CAT Exam
There are sub sections within the 3 sections in revised pattern for CAT exam 2020. For example, the revamped VARC section in CAT consists of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension sub sections; DILR contains questions on Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning. 

8 Key Facts about CAT Exam 2020

  1. CAT Test takers cannot leave their seats during the exam.
  2. There may not be any answer choices for Non-MCQs in revised pattern of CAT 2020
  3. Each correct answer in CAT exam will be awarded 3 marks whether it is MCQ or Non-MCQ
  4. CAT remains on the lines of CAT official Mock test released by IIMs a month before the CAT exam.
  5. A few days before CAT 2020 exam date, IIMs release CAT exam day guide, key features of CAT exam, CAT exam navigation guide to answer MCQ and Non-MCQ questions with important instructions
  6. CAT Test Day Workflow for Candidates for slot-1, slot-2 and slot-3 CAT exam is published on official CAT website by IIMs
  7. IIMs also release the CAT exam day important Do’s and Don’ts. It includes how to get ready for CAT exam day, and how to go through the key activities from the time of entering the CAT exam centre to leaving the testing hall.
  8. No candidate is allowed to wear jackets, jewellery, shoes, watch or carry the mobile phone, bag, wallets, electronic gadgets, stationary items inside the CAT testing hall.

CAT Vs Other Top MBA Entrance Exams: Comparative Analysis

 

CAT 2020 Vs XAT 2021
IIM CAT 2020 and XAT 2021 have many similarities which give the opportunity to the candidates to synchronise their sectional and overall exam preparation. A comparative analysis between both the exams is shared below

Component
 IIM CAT 2020
XLRI - XAT
Total questions
76
100
Overall time limit to attempt the exam
 2 hours
3 hours
Type of questions
MCQs, and Non-MCQs
MCQs
Answer options for each MCQ
4
5
Marks awarded for each correct answer
3
1
Negative marking
MCQs with 1/3 negative marking; No negative marking for Non-MCQs
75 MCQs with 1/4 negative marking; No negative marking for 25 MCQs on GK
Exam difficulty level
Comparatively high
High
Number of sections
3
3 (Main sections)
1 (GK score not counted)
Name of section-1 with number of questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension -26
English Language & Logical Reasoning- 26
Name of Section-2 with number of questions
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning-24
Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation- 28
Name of Section-3 with number of questions
Quantitative Ability-26
Decision Making-21
Facility to choose order of sections
No, has to follow pre defined sectional order
Any question from any section within overall time limit
Individual Sectional time limit
Each section with 40 Minute time limit
No
Top MBA colleges accepting exam score
20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IITs, XIMB
XLRI, SPJIMR, IMT, TAPMI, XIMB

CAT 2020 Vs NMAT 2020
IIM CAT 2020 and NMAT by GMAC have many similarities which give the opportunity to the candidates to synchronise their sectional and overall exam preparation. A comparative analysis between both the exams is shared below:

Component
 IIM CAT 2020
NMAT Exam Pattern 2020
Total questions
76
108
Overall time limit to attempt the exam
 2 hours
 2 hours
Type of questions
MCQs and Non-MCQs
All MCQs
Answer options for MCQs
4
5
Marks awarded for each correct answer
3
1
Negative marking
MCQs with 1/3 negative marking; No negative marking for Non-MCQs
No negative marking
Exam difficulty level
Comparatively high
Moderate
Number of sections
3
3
Name of section-1 with number of questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: 26
Language Skills-36
Name of Section-2 with number of questions
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning:24
Logical Reasoning-36
Name of Section-3 with number of questions
Quantitative Ability: 26
Quantitative Skills-36
Facility to choose order of sections
No, has to follow pre defined sectional order
Yes, but once chosen has to follow
Individual Sectional time limit
Each section with 40 minute time limit
Yes, varying time limit of 28 minutes to 62 minutes
Top MBA colleges accepting exam score
20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IITs, XIMB
NMIMS, VIT, XIMB

CAT 2020 Vs SNAP 2020
CAT 2020 and SNAP have many similarities which give the opportunity to the candidates to synchronise their sectional and overall exam preparation. A comparative analysis between both the exams is shared below

Component
IIMs CAT 2020
SNAP 2020
Total Questions
76
60
Overall Time Limit to Attempt the Exam
 2 hours
 1 hour
Type of Questions
MCQs, non MCQs
60 MCQs
Answer Options for MCQs
4
 4
Marks Awarded for each Correct Answer
3 for All questions
 1 for all questions
Negative Marking
MCQs with 1/3 negative marking;
25% for all questions
No negative marking for Non-MCQs
NA
Exam Difficulty Level
Difficult
Moderate
Number of Sections
3
3
Section-1: Name and Number of Questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: 26
General English, RC,VR,VA-15
Section-2: Name and Number of Questions
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning:24
Analytical & Logical Reasoning-25
Section-3: Name and Number of Questions
Quantitative Ability:26
Quant, DI, Data Sufficiency-20
Facility to Choose Order of Sections
No, has to follow pre defined sectional order
Yes, any question from any section within overall time limit
Individual Sectional Time Limit
Each section with 40 minute time limit
No
Top MBA Colleges Accepting Exam Score
20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, IITs, TAPMI, XIMB and hundreds of other B-schools. Read More
SIBM Pune, SCMHRD Pune, SIIB Pune, SIBM Bangalore & all other Symbiosis institutes. Read More

IIMs CAT Vs MAT
CAT 2020 and MAT have many similarities which give the opportunity to the candidates to synchronise their sectional and overall exam preparation. A comparative analysis between both the exams is shared below

Component
 IIM CAT 2020
MAT
Total Questions
76
200
Overall Time Limit to Attempt the Exam
 2 hours
 2½ hours
Question Format
MCQs, and Non-MCQs
All MCQs
Answer Options for MCQs
4
 4
Marks Awarded for Each Correct Answer
3
 1
Negative Marking
MCQs with 1/3 negative marking; No negative marking for Non-MCQs
0.25 mark
Exam Difficulty Level
Difficult
Easy to Moderate
Number of Sections
3
5
Section-1: Name and Number of Questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension:26
Language Comprehension: 40
Section-2: Name and Number of questions
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning:24
Intelligence & Critical Reasoning: 40
Section-3: Name and Number of Questions
Quantitative Ability:26
Data Analysis & Sufficiency: 40
Section-4: Name and Number of Questions
Not Applicable
Mathematical Skills: 40
Section-5: Name and Number of Questions
Not Applicable
Indian & Global Environment: 40
Facility to Choose Order of Sections
No, should follow pre defined sectional order
Yes, any section/question within overall time limit
Individual Sectional time limit
Yes, each section with 1 hour time limit
No, Candidate to complete the test in 150 minutes
Top MBA colleges accepting exam score
20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, NITIE, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, IITs, TAPMI, XIMB and hundreds of others
Christ University, NDIM, DSIMS, IPE, IESMCRC, FIIB among 600 MBA colleges

CAT Exam: Key Trends since Computerization
CAT Exam over the past 10 years, since it was computerised in 2009, has gone for perceptible changes. CAT paper pattern prior to 2009 was paper-pen based. CAT exam format was changed from paper based exam to CAT computer based test in 2009. Even after that CAT paper pattern continued changing from 3 sections to 2 and then CAT exam again switched to 3 sections in 2015. Since then CAT is following similar pattern. CAT 2020 has however changed from that of last year CAT exam with changes in test duration, sectional composition and overall number of questions.

Year

Total No of Qs

VA 

DI-LR

Quant

Difficulty level

Q break up

CAT 2020

76

VARC-26. RC-18, (All MCQs), Verbal-8 (non MCQs)

DILR-24, DI-14, LR-10, MCQs-18, Non-MCQs-6

QA-Total-26. MCQs 18, Non-MCQs-8

Moderate to High

CAT 2020 was on last year question pattern. Difficulty level went up in each slot from slot-1 to slot-3

CAT 2019

100

VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (non MCQs)

DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

QA-Total-34. MCQs 23, Non-MCQs-11

Moderate to High

CAT on last year pattern with changes in number of MCQs & non-MCQs as given section wise

CAT 2018

100

VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (2 MCQs, 7 non MCQs)

DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

Total-34. MCQs 22, Non-MCQs-12

Moderate to High

CAT Pattern in the lines of last year with changes in number of MCQs & non-MCQs in each section

CAT 2017

100

VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (3 MCQs, 7 non MCQs)

DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

Total-34. MCQs 23, Non-MCQs-11

Moderate

CAT Pattern in the lines of last year with changes in non-MCQs in each section

CAT 2016

100

VARC-34, RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (All non MCQs)

DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

Quant-34, MCQ-27, Non-MCQs-7

Moderate to difficult

CAT exam pattern on the same lines as of CAT exam pattern 2015 Non-MCQs in Quant reduced.

CAT 2015

100

VARC -34, RC-24 (MCQs), Verbal-10 (Non MCQs)

DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

Quant-34, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-10

Moderate to difficult

Time limit increased to 180 minutes; Sectional time constration of 1 hour re-introduced; Non-MCQs without negative marking penalty for wrong answer No questions on error correction and vocabulary.

Will CAT 2020 be Different?
CAT exam pattern 2020 is very much different from last year. It also carried changes in its content and question topics. The exam has gone with perceptible changes since 2014 not only in CAT structure but also in content.

 

Going by the tradition in changes in different type of questions in CAT, you could expect a different CAT 2020 Exam pattern.  However, despite number of changes brought about during last 5 years in CAT exam, the basics of the CAT exam have not changed. CAT exam pattern since 2015 has remained on the same lines.

 

CAT 2020 exam was also on expected pattern without any surprises. However, there were some minor changes in number and type of questions and their sectional composition.  With CAT 2020 over, now you need to make sure to bell the CAT 2021 with high score you need to begin your CAT exam preparation 2021 without waiting any longer. 

FAQs on CAT Exam Pattern

Q. What is CAT 2021 Exam Pattern
Ans. CAT 2021 is a computer based test with expected number of 100 questions divided into 3 sections of VARC, DILR and QA

 

Q. What is the CAT 2021 exam date?
A. CAT 2021 is expected on November 21, 2021 in two slots morning and afternoon. Check test time slots here

 

Q. Is CAT an online examination?
A. CAT is not an online examination. It is a digital or Computer Based Test (CBT); not an Internet-Based Test (IBT). A candidate will not take the examination on an internet site.

 

Q. Will IIMs provide some model test to understand CAT exam pattern?
A. Yes, a practice test will be available on the CAT website: www.iimcat.ac.in  in mid October 2021. You can familiarize yourself with the functionality and navigation of the actual exam.

 

Q. How many sections are there in CAT 2021?

CAT 2021 will have three sections:

  • Section I: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  • Section II: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
  • Section III: Quantitative Ability

Q. Do the non-MCQ type questions carry equal marks as MCQs?
A. Yes, all questions carry equal marks. However, for non-MCQ type questions, you must type the answer.

 

Q. Can I bring a calculator to the CAT exam centre?
A. No,
Candidates are prohibited from bringing calculators to the testing centre. You may use the onscreen calculator that will be available throughout the exam.

 

Q. How many non-MCQs are there in each section?
A. IIMs do not disclose the number of NON-MCQ questions. They may vary from section to section from year to year.

 

Q. Is there a specific order for answering sections? Can I attempt sections the way I want?
A. Yes, you must answer the sections in a pre-specified order and this order will remain the same for all the candidates.

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